|The Allstate 400 is the 2nd most prestigious race on the NASCAR circuit|
In the world of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing there are two events on the annual schedule that always stand out the most. The first one is obviously the Daytona 500. Every driver in NASCAR wants to own the label that says Daytona 500 champion.
The second prestigious event is coming up this Sunday: the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A win at Indy is internationally recognized. That famous strip of bricks at the start finish line fuels a driver's competitive urges. Everyone wants to participate in the ceremonial kissing of the bricks after the race.
DON'T EXPECT ANY TIRE TROUBLE.
We all remember what happened during this race last year. The tire wear was horrendous and could barely make ten laps before they started to shred. NASCAR threw so many competition yellow caution flags, to allow teams to change tires, that the race was dubbed by the media as "The Competition Yellow 400." Everyone agreed that the situation was dangerous, embarrassing and completely unacceptable.
Never wanting to go through this again, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and NASCAR teamed up several months ago and launched a series of tires tests at Indianapolis. Many of the Sprint Cup teams made room in their already tight schedules to participate. After seven different official tests the news is all good. The tire the teams will be using this Sunday scored high marks with the drivers and the teams and easily made 30 plus lap runs with minimum wear. Those who participated in all of this hard work are to be congratulated for their effort.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The defending race champion is Jimmie Johnson who won last year's event from the pole position.
But it's Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, who owns all of the important Indy stats. Gordon has the most wins, four, including the first ever NASCAR event at Indy in 1994. That has led to the Hendrick organization topping the team win list with six. Jeff Gordon also has the most poles with three, has the most top five finishes with nine, and leads the top ten finish stats with 12. He has also led the most laps by a race winner in 2004, 124 of the 160 laps, in that race. All of this is backed with an astounding average finish of 8.6 in 15 starts.
Casey Mears holds the speedway's qualifying record, 186.293 MPH, set in 2004.
Last year's event saw the most lead changes in the race with 26. Two times, 2000 and 2004, the Allstate 400 only had nine lead changes.
Last year's race also topped the stats for most leaders in the event with 16. The fewest amount of race leaders was five in 2000.
The Allstate 400 can sometimes be a little aggressive. The 2004 race had the most caution flags with 13. Last year's race set the mark for most caution laps with 52. But this race can also be about solid competition. The 1995 race had the fewest cautions, just one, as well as the fewest caution laps: four.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a 2.5 quad oval and will be soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary. The speedway was built back in 1909 with 3.2 million bricks hence the well known name "The Brickyard."
The speedway only has nine degrees of banking in its turns which often creates a real challenge for NASCAR's stock cars. Sunday will be NASCAR's 15th race at Indy.
This year's Allstate 400 has 47 entries. 12 of those teams are on the "go or go home" list meaning they will have to qualify on speed to earn a starting berth.
The Allstate 400 will be aired live by ESPN this Sunday beginning at 1:00 pm eastern time. The re-broadcasts will be Monday, 3:30 am eastern, on ESPN2 and again at 12:00 pm eastern on ESPN Classic. There will be a third replay of the race on Wednesday, July 29th, at 12:00 pm eastern on Speed.
THE VEGAS REPORT
The Las Vegas based World Sports Exchange-WSE has defending race champion Jimmie Johnson at the top of their rankings for Sunday's race at 5 to 1 odds. That's pretty understandable.
Also understandable is current Sprint Cup Series points leader Tony Stewart's 6 to 1 status.
Not so understandable is Jeff Gordon at 7 to 1 despite the fact that he owes every statistical category connected to this race.
Other noteworthy rankings include Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch at 8 to 1, Mark Martin at 9 to 1, Denny Hamlin at 12 to 1 and the older Busch brother, Kurt, at 15 to 1.
Further down the list you will find Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle at 18 to 1, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman at 20 to 1 while Juan Pablo Montoya and Dale Earnhardt Jr are ranked 25 to 1 this week.
Once again we need to remind you that NASCAR considers these odds rankings as entertainment and does not encourage or condone the placing of wagers on their races.
You may want to consider an alternative theory to spending your money such as sponsoring Jeremy Mayfield's race car.
(I'M ONLY KIDDING, DON'T START SENDING NASTY EMAILS.)